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Cameoljade “CJ” Woods is currently serving as a Mohala program extern with Kamehameha Schools, based at the Community Learning Center at Mā‘ili. She has successfully completed the MA‘O Organic Farms Ho‘owaiwai internship and is in the process of completing her bachelor's degree. Woods will offer the student reflection at the Huliko‘a Kaiāulu Scholar Speaker Series presentation on September 15, 2015 at CLC-M.

Mohala extern gets experience teaching keiki about pō mahina

March 2, 2016

Contributed by Shaundor Chillingworth

Since August of 2015, Cameoljade “CJ” Woods has spent her Mohala program externship with Kamehameha Schools’ Wai‘anae Coast region. Part of her kuleana as a part of this experience was to design an activity for keiki participating in a collaborative program offered at the Community Learning Center at Mā‘ili (CLC-M).  

The Community Learning Exchange (CLE) ‘Ohana Series is a series of community events that help to provide Waiʻanae Coast families with learning opportunities that focus on Hawaiian cultural content.

Each family gains knowledge which will empower them towards a cohesive and better future. Staff from the Kamehameha Schools Wai‘anae region, UH-Mānoa's Hawaiʻinuiākea, the Institute for Native Pacific Education and Culture (INPEACE) and the Waiʻanae Coast Re-Development Corporation (WCRC) MAʻO Organic Farms help make the CLE possible. 

With an event that aims to grow the community, there are goals that have to be accomplished. The goals are a shared commitment among the organizations to:

Increase mākua (parent/caregiver) knowledge about educational opportunities for their ʻohana and themselves; increase family engagement and hands-on learning through cultural practice; and develop a culture of advocacy, reciprocity and lifelong learning.

The family-focused event services as many families as possible. Throughout the five-month series, the average attendance is 71 participants per session from 30 ‘ohana. The amount of families served with this event has doubled since the first CLE ʻOhana Series in 2013-2014.

“As a community member and as a Kamehameha Schools staff member I understand the importance of gathering families in an educational space,” shares Woods. 

“My job was to create two keiki activities that engaged the youth and integrated Hawaiian culture.”

The first activity was a way for keiki to learn about pō mahina (moon phases) using Oreos.

Woods had incorporated food to add some excitement to the activities and engage the keiki.

“Most of the older children understood the activities while the younger children were more excited about eating Oreos,” remarked Woods.

For the second activity, Woods created coloring pages based on the plants and fish that could be harvested during the moon phases that were learned through the cookie activity.

“Both activities were well-received by the 24 keiki, ranging from infants to to preteens, that attended both sessions,” shared Woods.

“I really enjoyed facilitating the keiki activity, the energy was high and teaching the keiki about the moon phase was fun.It was a great experience working with the keiki and helping an event that pushes our community towards education and Hawaiian culture.”

With strong roots in this community, Woods recognizes the value of programs like the CLE ‘Ohana Series to help families better themselves mentally, physically and emotionally and how the program can ultimately be used as a tool to better the Wai‘anae community as a whole.

“As a youth from Wai‘anae I understand the barriers that our community faces and I believe that events like the CLE can help the community look at education and Hawaiian culture as empowering not oppressing.”

The CLE ‘ohana series launched a new cohort on January 23rd around the topic of embracing kuleana.

KS Mohala Program extern Cameoljade “CJ” Woods uses Oreos as a fun and engaging way to teach keiki about the phases of the moon.

Community Learning Exchange ‘Ohana Series events help provide Waiʻanae Coast families with learning opportunities that focus on Hawaiian cultural content.

Woods is a participant in MA‘O Organic Farms' ʻAuwai program - a series of six developmental programs that give young people practical experience serving their community.

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